Ryan Gannon

rgannon1@bryant.edu

Hi, I'm Ryan Gannon and I'm a sophomore from Litchfield, Connecticut. I'm a Global Supply Chain Management major and an Environmental Science Minor. I also love to run and am a member of the Cross Country and Track & Field teams here at Bryant. Thanks for reading!


Spring Break Across Austria

April 19th, 2015

After my time spent in Budapest, I took the short (and incredibly cheap) bus ride to the beautiful city of Vienna, the capital of Austria. I wasn't here for long, but over the course of just one day I was able to walk to most of the major sights in the city, which consisted mainly of huge, ornately decorated historic buildings, palaces and opera houses. I also explored Prater, the city's famous amusement park with no admission price, and took a ride in the giant wheel there for some incredible views of the nighttime skyline.

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The next day I boarded a train to Innsbruck. The ride itself from eastern to western Austria may have been my favorite part of the trip. It's springtime and the weather was warm, sunny and beautiful, but it had snowed a few days earlier, so the train wound through some of the greenest fields I've ever seen against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps. Innsbruck - a small city which has hosted two Winter Olympics -  is near both Switzerland and northern Italy, and nestled in the Alps range, surrounded in every direction by towering mountains.

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I spent four days here enjoying the serenity of the natural landscape and the beauty of Innsbruck and its surrounding villages - a welcome respite from the fast pace and size of Berlin. To save money, I avoided public transportation and walked everywhere, and I certainly did not mind it. The "old town" section of Innsbruck showcased some beautiful architecture and had a nice vibe, despite being a bit overrun by tourists.

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The real beauty of this place, at least for me, was in the areas just outside the city. I wasn't able to hike to any peaks like I'd hoped (due to the snow and my being totally unprepared) but there was still a great deal of wilderness to be explored before getting to the snow. Many quiet, charming and tiny villages spot the mountainsides overlooking Innsbruck, all laced together by narrow winding roads.

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I find it astounding that I was able to visit these three incredibly diverse places, get so much out of each of them, and travel between them with such ease in a matter of only ten days. Europe is pretty cool.

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Thanks for reading,

Ryan

Spring Break - Checking in from Budapest

April 6th, 2015

Thursday last week marked the beginning of spring break for my study abroad program. On Friday, I packed a bag and got on a plane to Budapest, Hungary, where I've spent that last two days.

The city is beautiful, and in the short time I've been here I have been able to see almost all of the major sights just by walking around.

I devoted my first day to the east side of the river, the "Pest side," where I saw the ornately decorated Parliament building and Saint Stephen's Basilica, toured the historic Jewish Quarter and walked to Heroes' Square, where hundreds of people were having a pillow fight.

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The next day I crossed the Chain Bridge to spend the day on the western "Buda side." Here I saw the Fisherman's Bastion and Mathias Church before hiking up to the Citadel for the best views of the city.

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Most of these activities were completely free, and all within walking distance of one another. I've chosen to spend this spring break travelling on my own - I think it's a valuable experience to organize and execute a trip for yourself, and one that builds a lot of confidence.

I will spend two nights in the city of Vienna next, before getting some quiet time in the mountains of western Austria. Updates on that soon to come.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan

Cultural Integration

March 30th, 2015

Before leaving for my semester abroad, I expected that my biggest challenge would be integrating with the local people and their culture. With that in mind I made it one of my main goals to meet and get to know as many local people as I could.

This is obviously more difficult in a foreign-speaking country. Luckily in my case, most of the people in Berlin speak English. This has its obvious benefits, mainly that I can navigate everyday life more easily and engage and communicate with more people. The downside, however, is that it doesn't force you to learn their language, limiting your connection with others. In a way, I like meeting people who don't speak English; it's great motivation to work harder at learning their language.

Making new acquaintances isn't always easy - even in a city with 3.5 million people. The best way is usually to seek like-minded people. That could mean joining a specific club, or just asking someone to spot you in the gym and going from there. I've met the most people so far by playing basketball in parks around my apartment, joining pickup games and getting to know people that way.

Most importantly, you can't expect it simply happen. Being proactive and leaving your comfort zone are essential if you want to get the full study abroad experience, and those will be important skills to have throughout your life and career.

 Thanks for reading,

 Ryan

Prague Excursion

March 23rd, 2015

One of the best parts of studying abroad through a program provider such as CIEE is the excursions they offer. These are trips planned and organized by the program to bring us out of our main city for a weekend to experience another part of the world.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking one such excursion to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Prague has the quintessential charm of an old European city - historic, ornate cathedrals wound together by cobblestone alleys, with a beautiful river running through the center of all of it.

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During our time in this city, we took a tour of the historic Jewish Quarter, visited sites like the beautiful Old Town Square, and watched a ballet performance in an elegant theater (with box seats!).

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For most people, an important part of studying abroad is travelling to other places in addition to your study abroad country. I think that's something everyone should do, and I also think it's important to get the experience of travelling on your own, booking your own transportation and lodging, and planning your own activities. But that whole process can be stressful and expensive, especially if you spend many weekends doing that. That's the great thing about program excursions - most things are already paid for and organized, so you can focus on enjoying yourself and taking in the culture of the city.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan

Academics Abroad

March 4th, 2015

The academic experience is different for every country and study abroad program you might choose. In fact, I feel mine is particularly atypical, but I'd like to share the setup of CIEE's Berlin Language & Culture program as well, if only to give you a sense of how many different options are available to prospective study abroad students.

I chose this program partly because it does not require a strong grasp of the German language. I wanted to experience a culture with a different language, but I don't know the language well enough to take classes taught in German. For those whose language skills are more advanced, a program that places you in a local university is an excellent way to improve that skillset. But for those in my situation, a program that offers its own English instruction is an ideal compromise.

The program provider (CIEE) has its own study center in central Berlin. This is a small facility housed in a historic building with high ceilings and large windows that let in plenty of sunlight and, on nicer days, a refreshing breeze.

With a typical course load, students take five courses while abroad. In my case, three of these classes are taken at the CIEE study center. Each student is required to take a German language class, and is placed in one of several course levels based on prior learning experience. Other classes typify standard general required classes. This is convenient, as it is much easier to have courses approved for specific credits with Bryant University. This is not to belittle the value of taking classes taught by local professors, though. Taking a German History class led by a born and raised German offers a perspective you'd likely never be exposed to in the United States. Most of these classes also have excursions built into the curriculum. Students in the film course had the incredible opportunity to attend the Berlinale Film Festival with press passes. As part of my Politics of Sustainability course, we will visit a local organic farm and meet the founders of an innovative supermarket that uses absolutely no packaging.

The other two courses that we take are held at Touro College, a tiny school in the quiet, forested Grünewald district on the western edge of the city. This school offers both American and German degrees, and actually has a campus in New York City as well. There are students from all over the world at this school, so coming here exposes us to a great diversity we wouldn't get if we only took classes at the study center. It's also nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city center once a week to breathe some fresh air and hear the birds singing.

When you study abroad as a Bryant student, you need to earn at least a C to get credit for a class back home. The grades you earn abroad are also not factored into your GPA. Many students think they'll have a free pass to scrape by and put only the minimum amount of effort necessary into their classes. What many seem not to know, however, is that the grades are still displayed on your transcript, and one semester of lower grades reflects poorly with potential employers. It is, after all, study abroad. While you want to travel and experience as much of the culture as you can, an important part of living in a new place is that you immerse yourself in the life of a student there, and that means committing to your academic education just as much as your cultural education.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan

Olympic Stadium Tour and Hertha vs. Freiburg

February 22nd, 2015

To get the most out of a study abroad experience, it's important to immerse yourself in your host country's culture. This means trying the food, learning the language, and meeting the locals. It also means getting into whatever it is that those people are most passionate about. In Germany, as in many other of the world's countries, that means getting into soccer.

A few weeks ago, we were given a tour of Berlin's Olympiastadion, the massive stadium which is home to Berlin's own Hertha BSC, and has played host to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final and the historic 1936 Summer Olympic Games. This was just one of many incredible excursions sponsored and prepaid by CIEE.

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We were brought into the V.I.P box, the place from which Angela Merkel views sporting events, as well as the balcony which Adolf Hitler stood on as he watched the Olympic Games. We then went down to pitch level, and stood where Jesse Owens historically sprinted and jumped his way to four gold medal finishes. Finally we were shown the locker rooms used by the world renowned and musicians that come to the stadium to compete and perform every year.

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A week later, we returned to the stadium for a true Berlin experience, a soccer game between the home favorite Hertha BSC and Freiburg. The stadium buzzed with energy through the entire game; the fans were on their feet singing, chanting and waving flags down to the last minute, even when it was clear that their team would lose. Their indelible passion for the game is unmatched by any other I've seen.

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Thanks for reading,

Ryan

My Berlin Home

February 16th, 2015

When studying abroad, you typically have two options when it comes to housing:

You may choose to live in a homestay, where you will live with a host family. With this set up, you'll typically have "host parents" and often "brothers and sisters" around your age or younger. This is a great way for students to truly immerse themselves in the new culture and learn the language if you're not in an English-speaking country. Host families also provide meals, so you won't have to worry much about buying food or cooking.

The other common option is living in an apartment. I decided to go this route because I wanted the experience of being totally independent and self-sufficient: grocery shopping, cooking for myself, and using the public transportation system to get around. The program provider (CIEE, in my case) located the apartments for us and placed us in them. Where you end up, the number of roommates you have and where those roommates are from is entirely dependent on your specific program.

I was placed in the Mitte district, in the heart of Berlin and in close proximity to many of Berlin's historic sights. It is also close to the CIEE study center and a major transportation hub. I share the apartment with two other American students in the program; we each have our own bedroom and share a living room, two bathrooms and a kitchen. Needless to say, we were incredibly lucky, and CIEE did an incredible job of securing this location for us.

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Every study abroad housing setup offers a different and unique experience. In some locations, you may be placed in university dormitories. Some programs offer roommate contracts that state you can only communicate in that country's language while in the apartment. What's important is that for the time you're abroad, you truly make that place your home.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan

Greetings from Berlin!

February 9th, 2015

It's been a crazy two weeks, but I'm finally beginning to settle into life in Germany, where I will be spending this spring semester. After months of planning and preparation, it's somewhat surreal now that it's actually happening.

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I was lucky enough to fly out of JFK just before a blizzard shut down the East coast. After a long flight over the Atlantic and a connection in Moscow, I arrived in the morning in the great city of Berlin. This would be my first time in Europe, living in a city, away from friends and family, and I don't speak much German. Naturally I was a bit nervous and outside my comfort zone, but that's part of the point of studying abroad. I was (and still am) excited for the challenges and adventures that lay ahead.

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The city of Berlin is incredible. The population of 3.5 million is sprawled across 12 districts, each with its own unique "personality," all connected by a fantastic system of public transportation. Every day I walk through a fusion of the past and present; a difficult history and a progressive new outlook. Feats of modern architecture are flanked by old buildings riddled with bullet holes.

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Costs of living are incredibly low, and there's always an exciting event that can be enjoyed on a college student's budget. Beyond the countless historical sites and monuments, the streets are flush with hip cafes and restaurants that cater to young people as well as expats. You'd be hard pressed to spend time in this city and not meet lots of fascinating people from every corner of the globe.

Once I've settled in further (and taken better pictures), I will post more in depth about my experiences and the life of a study abroad student. Until then,

 Thanks for reading,

Ryan

Fidelity Case Competition

December 8th, 2014

Just about every student at Bryant takes a class called Computer Information Systems (CIS), typically as a sophomore. This course teaches you how information systems are developed and used to achieve business objectives. You also learn extensively about how to use Microsoft Excel, which is an extremely valuable asset in workplaces today.

As part of the course, we split up into groups of about five or six people classmates and work together on a major project, which is a case analysis competition. We are given a spreadsheet with hundreds of lines of data about a financial services group's brokers and their selling performance over three years. Our job is to use Excel to analyze this data and ultimately determine whether a marketing campaign employed by the company was successful.

Teams compete against each other within their own class sections, and the winner of each class goes on to a semi-final round. During the semi-final round, your team presents to impartial professors, who then choose six teams that will go on to the final round.

The final round is hosted by Fidelity Investments, on their beautiful campus which is just across the road from Bryant. My team and I had the honor of being finalists in this year's competition, and got to present our findings to some of the company's executives.

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It was a great chance to practice our presentation skills in a relatively high-pressure environment. Even better is the opportunity to show the company what you're made of, and get your foot in the door  for potential future employment. To top it off, Fidelity awards $600 and $400 to the first and second place teams.

 Thanks for reading,

Ryan

Big Accolades for a not so small school

November 25th, 2014

When I tell people I go to Bryant University, I'm used to the response being "What school?" or "Where is that again?" or something else along those lines. For a school as small as Bryant, with a campus that is off the beaten path, this is to be expected.

 But the word about Bryant is getting out. As the years go by, Bryant has been racking up more and more accolades from highly regarded national reviews and newspapers. The university's top notch business education opportunities and career placement services are drawing attention from such publications as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, to name a few.

Often cited is the very small student body, which means you'll never find yourself as just a number in a lecture hall. The classes are small and students form relationships with their professors.

Bryant has been praised primarily for its strength in accounting, marketing, International Business and supply chain management programs. In addition, the College of Arts and Sciences boasts highly recognized programs in Actuarial Mathematics, Economics, Biology and Communication to name a few. The undergraduate requirement that students integrate their major with a minor of a different field (i.e. a business major with a liberal arts minor) has also been recognized for promoting a balanced and well-rounded education.

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During this excited period of growth for the Bulldogs, you can expect a degree from Bryant University to be invaluable years after graduating.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan